Everything old is new again. Sometimes something so mundane transforms into something beautiful simply by being used in a different context. Terrazzo floors are everywhere, from your elementary school, to hospitals and malls but the classic Venetian building material has recently been revisited and the results, from dishware to a Maison Kitsuné store, are unexpected and incredibly beautiful.
2015 was a weird one, no? A good year, a really good year, but a fast one and a weird one. There were so many unexpected and wonderful design moments and trends this year, so here it is, another end of year list. Best Of Everything Design // 2015;
1) I've already done a whole post on it (here) but boobs were literally everywhere you looked, from towels, to ceramics, pillows and clothing and I liked it. Boobs boobs boobs.
2) Indigo and Shibori everything. This wallpaper from Amber Interiors may be my favourite and I can't wait for a project to use it in.
3) Things got lighter. After years of dark woods, deep leathers and mid century ruling the game this year everything got a little bit more playful and airy. This was super evident at the OffSites at ICFF and even warranted an article in the New York Times featuring a handful of my favourite furniture designers.
4) Anything goes. I also already wrote about this too (here) but it was so refreshing to see designers effortlessly blending trends this year to create spaces that felt natural. If you've ever worked with me you've probably heard me ranting about two things, "curated not designed" is one of them and it was everywhere in interiors this year. (The other thing is probably something about adding texture.)
5) Design Is One : the story of Lella and Massimo VIgnelli of Vignelli Associates (they pretty much designed everything). Watch it on Netflix.
6) Dusen Dusen's bedding line (and those overalls).
8) This chair.
9) Pink. Along with the light and airy trend came a sweet return of pastels in interiors in a very fresh way that referenced the 80s without overdoing it. Dusty rose with cement grey or shiny copper was everywhere and killing it.
10) Hotels. For me, the ultimate dream is designing a hotel. At my job at Breather I get the opportunity to do something very very close to that, creating public space that makes people feel like it's their own (only, better than their own). In my opinion, the hotels that took the cake this year are; The Dean Hotel, The Line Hotel & The Tribal Hotel
I was overwhelmed at WCC this year to see so many talented Californian ceramic artists in one room. It's such a different thing to see, touch and hold ceramics in person, you can fully appreciate the craftsmanship and the 'makers mark' left on handmade work. This trip put taking a ceramics or pottery class right to the top of my New Years resolutions list (any takers?), right above getting over my fear of taking a kickboxing class. There are endless sources of inspiration out there, from amazing contemporary designers to some truly beautiful work from the 80s and traditional Japanese pieces. Here are a few of my favourites;
There's a beautiful thing happening in interior design right now, where West Coast texture and pattern is being blended with Scandinavian and Japanese airiness and the outcome is right up my alley. For lack of a better term let's call it Minimal Bohemian. When I think 'Bohemian' I think of bad music festival themed window displays at fast fashion retailers and a top to bottom Urban Outfitters adorned dorm rooms, this is not that Boho.
This look is much more literally influenced by what was actually happening in the late midcentury design world that it's referencing but without the heavy handedness. This style has been my number one inspiration with a very exciting upcoming project I'm working on so I thought I would share some of my favourite research here.
I joked about it but here it is, a boob round up! Boobs are everywhere right now, not just on ladies but on home decor. I keep seeing pieces that do a pretty rad job of jumping on the boob bandwagon so I thought I would share my favorites.
While there is something so nice about snuggling into the armrest of a classic couch, I find I am always drawn to light, wood framed sofas. I've come a cross a few extra special ones recently so I thought it would be a good time for a little round up. There's a sofa in here for every budget.
This year's New York Design Week was unbelievably inspiring when it came to furniture but one building material may actually be my favorite take away of the whole show. I was happy to see new wallpaper from Grow House Grow at ICFF but it was her cement tiles that stuck with me. Otomi is one of my most loved textile patterns and it translates so nicely to the matte earthy texture of cement. I look forward to the day I get a client looking for a truly unique powder room floor. Here is a round up of some of my other favorite cement tiles.
Ten years ago I joined my husband's band on a three month tour of the US. We had a 5 day stop in Austin where we met a musician/cowboy named Redding Hunter who convinced us we should take advantage of our time in Texas and all go explore Marfa. All seven of us squished into the van and spent a few beautiful days in a desert town I'm not soon to forget. Red wrote this song about our trip and it still makes me want to pack up and head South, constantly planning imaginary road trips.
Marfa, home of Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation, is the most perfect little artist desert town, where you can't tell if the guy carrying a chainsaw down the street it a forester or a famous sculpter. It's not a town where you'd want to stay in a "hotel" hotel, it wouldn't feel right which is why hotelier (and personal hero) Liz Lambert's El Cosmico is so perfect there. You can stay in a "fancy" tent or a camper or you can simply camp on the beautiful grounds. There's a communal bathhouse with outdoor clawfoot tubs and wood-fired hot tubs along with a little shop, community events and a hammock grove. It's the stuff that imaginary road trips are made of.
For my first Designer In Residency feature I recently interviewed my lovely friend Mitz Takahashi because a) he is an incredibly talented furniture designer and b) because I thought his answers would make me laugh. I was not let down.
You have a pretty notorious sense of humour which you work into some of your home accessories. Your furniture however is pretty sophisticated. Do you ever think of making furniture pieces that reflect that side of yourself?
Thank you. I have been thinking about it but I think its harder for bigger items since it could be gimmicky and it might be too much in your face since the products are bigger. I have to find a better way to incorporate it into bigger items. I was thinking about furniture series called, "lo-life" chairs, ottoman, couches, coffee tables, side tables, that are low to the ground which are seen lots in Japan, (there are lots of low seatings since Japanese people sit right on the ground often.) I just wanted to do photo shoot with lazy relaxed people sitting in chairs with a bag of chips, making a mess on the shirt, napping, etc. im not sure though hahahhaah.
What brought you from Japan to Calgary and then Calgary to Montreal?
Hmmmm there are two versions. One long version or short one. Ill try to keep it short. I always wanted to go overseas to study. I thought about going overseas after finishing high school in Japan but my parents and I talked and thought might be better to go little bit earlier since, you know? it's easier to learn another language or adapt to new environment when you are young and restless. so I packed my suitcase with clean underwear and grunge CDs and came to Canada.I actually went to high school in a small southern alberta town called, Crowsnest Pass. its 2.5 hrs southwest of calgary. close to BC border. its a beautiful rockie mountain town. My mom knew a friends' sister who lived there. After high school there, I went to University of Lethbridge. I took BFA in Multidisciplinary which touches everything in fine arts department. I didn't even know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to do something creative or at least hands on work. i thank my parents for supporting me and letting me take what I wanted. After university, I came to Montreal in 2007 I think or 2006? After I got my permanent residency status, I enrolled in cabinet-making course at RTC(Rosemount Technology Centre). so I sometimes wonder how did I get here. It's that same feeling I get when I was initially watching climate change documentary on youtube but after a couple of suggested videos, I end up watching epic clips of "hippos having explosive diarrhea" life finds way indeed.
Are there any other woodworkers or designers in your family?
My uncle does woodworking. my dad did a lot of DIY stuff and had hobbies like train models, gliders, remote controlled cars, etc. He read a lot of books and was into weird sub-culture or trivia like a giraffe only sleeps 20 mins a day or licking a stamp is consuming 0.1 calories etc. My mom did a lot of ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement and other hobbies as well. My older brother is a computer engineer in Osaka and my younger brother is an architect in Tokyo. My family is the biggest inspiration. I realized what I do and what I want to do is to make my family proud. I want to create something that makes my family proud.
Your girlfriend Rachel Denkers is a talented fashion designer known for her intricate knit leather work. Wood and leather compliment each other so well. Have you two ever collaborated on either a fashion or furniture project?
Yes! in fact, we are designing chairs and bed frames together, right now. There are a lot of ideas we have that we want to make into reality. we are working on it;)
Your work blends decorative Japanese woodworking techniques with very West Coast mid-century lines. Who is your number one 50s design inspiration and your biggest Japanese design hero?
50's Finn Juhl always comes to my mind. obvious but cant skip Sori Yanagi, Noguchi Isamu, Riki Watanabe for Japanese MCM designers. Makio Hasuike, Nendo, Maruni, Truck, Masayuki Kurokawa..sorry pretty obvious popular big names. Its like asking musician what bands you like and im answering I like beatles, stones and nirvana. but you know there is a reason why its popular i guess. Not product/furniture designers but I also like art by Marisol Escobar, and reading books a lot in Japanese(since its faster for me) I also spend a lot of time watching sports too...oops. I like hanging out with friends, looking at pigeons eat bread crumbs, watching security guards act like they own the place, cooking, eating ice cream twice a day. early Jackie Chan movies, friends and families. it comes down to that and its simple. I dont wanna sound cheesy and preaching but good furniture seem to me is timeless and long lasting, passed on from parents to kids part of their daily lives. I try to keep it simple that doesn't go out of style.
What's your favourite thing about your studio?
I love my studiomates. There are really really talented people in my studio from all over the mediums from art to journalists.
Kevin Ledo, Dave Todaro, Peter Ferguson, Lenny and Luca Daddy Mojo, Phil, the Main blog. Zoe, Ashley, Kai Takeshima, Dan and J.R is a computer engineer.(we joke that we all have no idea what he does, hahaha, great guy though).
Everyone is good, talented people and we have fun together. I tell them trivias like a giraffe only sleeps 20 mins a day or licking a stamp is consuming 0.1 calories etc. Ahahahhaahah thanks!
Palm Springs became an unlikely favorite city of ours over the past few years. My snowbird parents have been migrating every winter for over a decade but my husband Rory and I never made the trip until our daughter was born two years ago. Outside of Coachella season it's a sleepy California desert town that moves at a very slow pace but there are a million hidden gems if you seek them out. From unbelievable vintage shops in Yucca Valley to Pappy & Harriet's to the Integratron.
A yearly tradition has been to leave our daughter overnight with the grandparents and check-in at the ACE Palm Springs, easily our favorite hotel. Its pool has an unreal view surrounded by mountains and the design is so perfectly unperfect, it's one of my all time favorite inspiration sources. Here are some ways you can recreate its very laid back West Coast desert feeling in your own home.
I am one of those people that occasionally brings home a plant with an eager grin on my face and a mind full of thoughts of how this time it will be different. I loudly announce every time (both times?) I water it and then skip ahead two weeks to tossing it out so I don't need to be reminded of my failings. I've somehow managed to keep a toddler well fed and cared for but houseplants should not be left in my care.
Co-workers at Breather will scoff reading this as I am the biggest champion of having plants in our spaces. I really do believe that they tie a room together and add a much needed element of life when you're designing public space. So I've compiled a list for you fellow black thumb people of plants that even I can't kill. Good luck!
I've said it before, I love chairs. I obsess over them in fact. They are often overlooked but are, in my opinion, quite simply the most important piece you can put into a room. The client I'm currently working with has requested a rocker for their living room and, while they like the tried and true look of a black Eames rocking chair, I've started searching for a more compelling alternative. Here are a round up of some of the loveliest rockers I've seen. Some are viable options for this project and some are just beautiful inspiration.
I love incorporating warmth and texture into spaces, something that adds a feeling of curation rather than design. Bògòlanfini, otherwise known as Mud Cloth is a dyed fabric from Mali that's decorated in linear geometric patterns and made using cotton and fermented mud. Most commonly found in black and white true Bògòlanfini is characterized by blurred bleeding lines and raw sewn patchwork in the fabric. The perfect imperfections of this textiles is what I love so much about it.
With the popularity of simple geometric lines in art and interiors, Mud Cloth is popping up everywhere. With its typically monochromatic and high contrast patterns it has a completely modern look but is actually a technic dating back to the 12th century. If it's a look you love try to buy the real deal from fair trade vendors, Fine Little Day occasionally has authentic throw pillows (though they are often sold out as soon as they go in the shop) or if you're feeling DYI Ananse Village has a very nice Fair Trade Bògòlanfini fabric collection.
With the current trends favoring coppers and deep leathers it's only natural that a complimentary color would also rise in popularity. Enter indigo. This beautiful blue is both bright and rich and paired with the aforementioned materials and a good dose of white it's a match made in design heaven. From the drama of a painted inky feature wall to a few light shibori throw pillows, indigo can either go very mature or a little bit bohemian depending on how you incorporate it. Here is a round of up of some of the most eye catching applications
If you are lucky enough to be someone who throws extravagant parties in San Francisco, LA or Palm Springs than you may already know about YEAH! and their beautiful mid-century influenced party rentals. However, if you, like me, simply dream of the West Coast life you can now bring home their style via their line of original pieces available for sale. Using hardwoods, metals, leather and rope each piece is made in Los Angeles and designed in collaboration with various artisans. The YEAH! collection is perfection in that laid back, effortless, cool way that California does so well.
I have a chair obsession, maybe even a chair problem. There are easily over a dozen of them in my home, I collect them like foster kittens. From the rare boxy shaped Eames fiberglass chair that my husband and I disassembled to bring home as luggage from Palm Springs to the set of mid-century blond wishbone chairs that I'll recover the seats on..one of these days. There are too many beautiful chairs in the world and not enough room in my home to accommodate them all, so I'll collect them here.
My first Better Know a Chair is the gorgeous Sit and Read Sling Chair designed by Kyle Garner and made in the USA. This is the simplest and more elegant of all the beautiful rod iron and leather chairs out there and one that I may just need to make room for one day.
It's easy to see that warm metals are having a major moment in interior design. Not since the seventies have they been this popular. Like with any trend I wouldn't recommend outfitting your whole house in coppers and golds but these beautiful items show how you can add just a subtle touch of metallics to your space.
Part of what makes Breather space so fun to design is that they are a hybrid between interior style and commercial public space, each room fits into the Breather style parameters but is unique in its own way. Part of how we achieve that is with the details; rugs, throw pillows and art. It can be hard enough finding affordable art pieces but harder still to find beautiful pieces with a wide appeal. I recently shared some of my favourite sources on the Breather blog so you can start a collection without going broke. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces from the round up. Read the piece here.